Dutch Schultz


Dutch Schultz (August 6, 1902October 24, 1935) was a New York City-area gangster of the 1920s and 1930s. Born Arthur Flegenheimer in the German-American Yorkville section of Manhattan, he made his fortune in organized crime-related activities such as bootlegging alcohol and the numbers racket.

Early years

Arthur Flegenheimer was born to German-Jewish immigrants Emma and Herman Flegenheimer. When he was 14 years old his father abandoned the family. The event traumatized Schultz; throughout his life he would deny that his father had left the family, instead defending the elder Flegenheimer as a respectable man and ideal father who died tragically of disease. As a result of his father's departure, Schultz left school to find work and support himself and his mother. He ended up apprenticing to low-level mobsters at a neighborhood night club. Schultz robbed craps games before graduating to burglary. Schultz was eventually caught breaking into an apartment, arrested, and sent to prison on Blackwell's Island (now known as Roosevelt Island) However, the prison staff soon found the young inmate to be unmanageable and arranged his transfer to the Westhampton Farms work farm. Schultz escaped from the farm but was soon re-captured and given an additional two months on his sentence.

After Schultz's release from the work farm, his old associates dubbed him "Dutch" Schultz in honor of a deceased strongarm thug who was notorious for dirty fighting at the turn of the century. With the enactment of Prohibition, Schultz, along with other organized crime figures, would become a wealthy man.


In 1928, gangster Joey Noe set up the Hub Social Club, a hole-in-the-wall speakeasy in a Brook Avenue tenement and hired Schultz to work in it. While working at the Club, Schultz gained a reputation for brutality when he lost his temper. Impressed by Schultz's ruthlessness, Noe soon made him a partner. With the profits from their speakeasy, Noe and Schultz opened more operations. To avoid the high delivery cost of wholesale beer, the two men bought their own trucks. Frankie Dunn, a Union City, New Jersey brewery owner, supplied Noe and Schultz with beer. Schultz would ride shotgun on deliveries to protect the beer trucks from hijackers. Noe and Shultz then decided that they would also furnish the beer for their rival speakeasies. If a speakeasy owner refused to buy beer from the Noe / Schultz combine, he would pay a very steep price.

The Rock brothers, who had established a territory in the Bronx while Noe and Schultz were still hanging out on street corners, did not appreciate incursions on their turf and decided to play hardball. However, the Rock brothers underestimated these newcomers. Eventually, elder brother John Rock agreed to step aside, but younger brother Joe refused to give in. One night the Noe / Schultz gang kidnapped and brutalized him. The gang beat him and hung him by his thumbs on a meat hook. They then allegedly wrapped a gauze bandage smeared with discharge from a gonorrhea infection over his eyes. His family reportedly paid $35,000, and he was released. Shortly after his return, he went blind. From then on, the Noe / Schultz gang met little opposition as they expanded to control the beer supply for the entire Bronx.

Legs Diamond

The Noe / Shultz operation, which had begun to flourish in the Bronx, had become the only non-Italian gang able to rival those who would become the heads of the Mafia's Five Families. It now expanded over to Manhattan's Upper West Side into the neighborhoods of Washington Heights, Yorkville, and Harlem. Schultz and Noe moved their headquarters from the Bronx to East 149th Street in Manhattan; however, the gang's move to Manhattan now brought them into direct competition with Jack "Legs" Diamond. A full-scale war soon broke out between the two gangs.

Early one morning in 1928, Noe was gunned down outside of the Chateau Madrid on 54th Street. He managed to get off a couple of shots although he was mortally wounded. Witnesses later reported seeing a blue Cadillac bounce off a parked car and lose one of its doors before speeding away. When police recovered the car an hour later, they discovered the body of Louis Weinberg (no relation to Shultz gang members Abraham "Bo" Weinberg and George Weinberg) in the back seat. Joey Noe managed to survive the ambush, but died a month later. Schultz was crushed by the loss of his friend and mentor, and the underworld legend is that he held Diamond responsible.

A few weeks after the Chateau Madrid ambush, Arnold Rothstein was found fatally wounded near a service entrance to the Park Royal Hotel. While the most common theory for Rothstein's murder was that George "Hump" McManus killed him over a bad gambling debt, many believed Schultz ordered the Rothstein hit in retribution for the Chateau Madrid meeting. One piece of circumstantial evidence supporting this theory was that the first person McManus called after the Rothstein shooting was Schultz's attorney, Dixie Davis. After the phone call to Davis, Bo Weinberg picked up McManus and spirited him away from the murder scene. McManus was later cleared of the killing.

In October 1929, Diamond and his mistress were dining in their pajamas in her suite at the Hotel Monticello. Gunmen broke down the door and sprayed the room with machine gun fire, hitting Legs five times. After recovering from his wounds, Diamond left New York for a stay in Europe. During his absence, the Diamond gang was forced to relocate out of the city. When Diamond returned home, he began carving out a new territory for himself in Albany.

"Mad Dog" Coll

Unique among the major gangs in organized crime, Schultz gang members received a flat salary instead of the customary percentage of the take from any operations in which they were involved. In 1930, one of Schultz's enforcers, Vincent Coll decided that this arrangement was unacceptable and demanded to be made a partner instead. When Schultz refused, Coll formed his own crew with the ultimate goal of murdering Schultz and taking over his territory. During the bloody conflict that followed, Coll lost his older brother Pete and earned the nick name "Mad Dog" from the press after a child was killed during a botched assasination committed by his gang.

In February 1932, the Schultz gang lured Coll into a trap. While Coll was talking in a drug store phone booth, gunmen burst into the store and machine-gunned him to death. The killers may have included Fats McCarthy and the Weinberg brothers.

The Numbers Game

With the end of Prohibition, Dutch Schultz needed to find new sources of income. His answer came with Otto "Abbadabba" Berman and the Harlem numbers racket. The numbers racket, the forerunner of "Pick 3" lotteries, required players to choose three numbers, which were then derived from the last number before the decimal in the odds at the racetrack. Berman was a middle-aged accounting and math whiz who let Schultz fix this racket. In a matter of seconds, Berman could mentally calculate the minimum amount of money Schultz needed to bet at the track at the last minute in order to alter the odds. This strategy ensured that Schultz always controlled which numbers won, guaranteeing a larger amount of losers in Harlem and a multi-million dollar-a-month, tax-free income for Schultz. Berman was reportedly paid $10,000 a week for his valued insight.

The Restaurant Racket

Along with the policy rackets, Schultz began extorting New York restaurant owners and workers. Using strong-arm tactics such as beatings and stink bomb attacks, Schultz merged all the local unions under his Metropolitan Restaurant & Cafeteria Owners Association. A hulking gangster named Jules Modgilewsky, aka Julie Martin, served as Schultz' point man in this operation. Martin successfully extracted thousands of dollars of tributes and "dues" from the terrified restaurant owners. During Schultz’s tax trial he began to suspect that Martin was skimming from the shakedown operation; Schultz had recently discovered a $70,000 disparity in the books. On the evening of March 2, 1935, Schultz invited Martin to a meeting at the Harmony Hotel in Cohoes, New York. At the meeting, at which Bo Weinberg and Dixie Davis were also present, Martin belligerently denied Schultz's charges and began arguing with him. Both men were drinking heavily as the argument continued and Schultz sucker-punched Martin. Finally, Martin admitted that he had stolen “only” $20,000 dollars, which he believed he was “entitled to" anyway. Dixie Davis related what happened next:

“Dutch Schultz was ugly; he had been drinking and suddenly he had his gun out. The Dutchman wore his pistol under his vest, tucked inside his pants, right against his belly. One jerk at his vest and he had it in his hand. All in the same quick motion he swung it up, stuck it in Jules Martin’s mouth and pulled the trigger. It was as simple and undramatic as that – just one quick motion of the hand. The Dutchman did that murder just as casually as if he were picking his teeth.”

As Martin contorted on the floor, Schultz apologized to Davis for killing someone in front of him. When Davis later read a newspaper story about Martin's murder, he was shocked to find out that the body was found on a snow bank with a dozen stab wounds to the chest. When Davis asked Schultz about this, the boss dead-panned, “I cut his heart out.”

Tax troubles

At the time of the Martin killing, Schultz was busy fighting a federal tax evasion case. In addition, U.S. Attorney Thomas Dewey had set his sights on convicting Schultz. Schultz's lawyers convinced the judge that their client couldn't get a fair trial in New York City, so the judge moved it to a small town in rural Upstate New York, Malone.

Looking to influence potential jurors, Schultz presented himself to the town as a country squire and good citizen. He donated cash to local businesses, gave toys to sick children and performed other such charitable deeds. The strategy worked. In the late summer of 1935, to everyone's surprise, Schultz was acquitted of tax evasion.

Following his acquittal in the second trial, the outraged Mayor of New York, Fiorello La Guardia, had issued an order that Schultz be arrested on sight should he return to New York. As a result Schultz was forced to relocate his base of operations across the Hudson River to Newark, New Jersey.

As the legal and related costs of fighting his tax indictment continued to mount, Schultz had found it necessary to cut the commissions of his runners and controllers in order to bolster the "Arthur Flegenheimer Defense Fund". He reduced pay from around 50 percent, down to 10 percent for the runners and 5 percent for the controllers. However the Schultz's poverty plea fell on universally deaf ears, even after his associates began making threats of violence if any serious resistance developed. The runners and controllers hired a hall and held a mass protest meeting and declared a strike of sorts. Suddenly fewer and fewer bets were being delivered to the banks, reducing the vast policy inflow to a mere trickle as the Schultz's street soldiers lost their zeal. Schultz was forced to back down and restore the status quo, but he had already permanently damaged his relationships with his underlings.

Bo Weinberg, concerned that the drain of money from Schultz rackets into his legal defense fund was going to ruin the business for everyone else, sought advice from New Jersey mobster Longy Zwillman, who in turn put him in contact with Charlie "Lucky" Luciano. Weinberg was hoping to make a deal whereby he would retain overall control and a percentage, but Luciano instead planned to divide the Schultz empire among his associates. All this was to come into effect in the event of the Dutchman being convicted.

Believing that Schultz would be convicted in the second trial, Luciano and his allies had implemented their plan to move in on his empire. Given the circumstances of his take-over of the Policy racket, the bad feeling created by his attempted pay cuts and the complicity of Weinberg, his number one enforcer, the take-over would have met with little resistance. Schultz quickly sought a meeting with Charlie Luciano, his erstwhile colleague on the Commission, in order to 'clarify' the situation. Schultz even converted to Roman Catholicism to cozy up to Luciano. Luciano placated Schultz with the explanation that they were just 'looking after the shop' while he was away, only to ensure that everything ran smoothly, and promised that control of his rackets would be returned.

In a weakened position and still under constant harassment from the authorities, Schultz was forced to accept Luciano's version of events. However, Luciano was well aware of the Schultz prior history and would have had no illusions about what the long term scenario would be - that as soon as he felt able, Schultz would launch an all out war to recover what he had lost and get revenge.

The Death of Dutch Schultz

Still suspicious of Luciano after the Weinberg betrayal, gangland legend has it that Schultz soon went before an emergency meeting of the Commission (Mafia), and asked permission to kill his nemesis, U.S. Attorney Thomas Dewey. While some Commission members, including Albert Anastasia and Jacob Shapiro, supported Schultz's proposal, the majority were against it on the basis that the full weight of the authorities would come down on them if they were to murder Dewey, and they voted unanimously against the proposal. Bonanno family boss Joseph Bonanno thought the idea was "insane". Schultz was furious at the outcome of his Dewey suggestion; he accused the Commission of trying to steal his rackets and "feed him to the law." After Schultz left in a rage, the Commission decided finally to kill him in order to prevent the Dewey hit. Calabrian immigrant Albert Anastasia was ordered to arrange Schultz's assassination and assigned Jewish mobster Louis Lepke to "take care of it."

At 10:15 pm on October 23, 1935, Schultz was killed at the Palace Chophouse in Newark, New Jersey, which he was using as his new headquarters. Two bodyguards and Schultz's accountant were also killed.

Schultz was in the men's room when Charles Workman and Emanuel "Mendy" Weiss, two hitmen working for Lepke Buchalter's Murder, Inc., entered the establishment. Accounts vary of what happened next.

Workman and Weiss opened fire on the three men in the back room: Otto Berman, Schultz's accountant; Abe Landau, Schultz's chief henchman; and Schultz's bodyguard, Bernard "Lulu" Rosencrantz. Berman collapsed to the floor immediately after being shot. Rosencrantz and Landau returned fire against Weiss while Workman ducked into the bathroom.

Workman then entered the bathroom and found Schultz still at the urinal. Schultz was unarmed, except for a (3.5 inch) "Chicago Spike"-style switchblade knife. Workman shot at Schultz twice, but only one bullet hit him, striking him slightly below the heart; the bullet ricocheted internally before exiting out the small of his back. Reports conflict over whether Workman stole Schultz's wallet or simply ran from the scene. Meanwhile, Weiss was still engaged in a gun battle with Rosencrantz and Landau, both of whom, despite suffering severe injuries were still chasing after and shooting at him. (Landau's carotid artery was severed by a bullet passing through his neck, whereas Rosencrantz was struck repeatedly at point blank range with 00 lead buckshot) Landau chased Weiss out of the restaurant and fired at the getaway car before collapsing of blood loss; Weiss ordered he and Workman's driver, "Piggy," to leave Workman behind. As of 2008, "Piggy" has never been positively identified, but may have been Seymour Schechter. In the dining area, Workman encountered Lulu Rosencrantz, whom he managed to dodge before fleeing the scene.

Shortly after Workman fled, Schultz staggered out of the bathroom, clutching his side. According to legend, Schultz did not want to be found dead on the floor of a men's room. He therefore picked up his hat, staggered back to his seat in the backroom, sat down, and slumped over the table. Schultz called for someone to get an ambulance; Rosencrantz pulled himself to his feet and walked to the bar, demanded that the bartender (who had hidden beneath the bar during the shootout) should give him change for a dollar.

When the ambulance arrived, they determined that Landau (who had all but bled to death) and Rosencrantz (who was unconscious in the phone booth) were the most seriously wounded of the four men and had them transported to the hospital first; a call was placed to send a second ambulance for Schultz and Berman. There is a famous photograph of Schultz sitting at the table, suggesting that he had already died at the scene. The police gave Schultz brandy to try and dull his pain and attempted to interrogate him while waiting for the second ambulance; when it arrived, Schultz gave the paramedics $700 in cash to ensure that they gave him the best possible treatment.

Otto Berman was the first to die at 2:20 that morning. At the hospital, Landau and Rosencrantz waited for surgery and refused to say anything to the police until Schultz arrived and gave them permission; even then, they provided the cops only minimal information. Abe Landau died eight hours after the shooting. Meanwhile, Rosencrantz was taken into surgery; the doctors, incredulous that Rosencrantz was still alive, were unsure of how to treat him. He survived for 29 hours after the shooting before succumbing to his injuries.

Before Schultz went to surgery, the gangster received the Last Rites from a Roman Catholic priest at his request; during his second trial, Schultz had decided to convert to Catholicism and had been studying its tenets ever since, convinced that Jesus had spared him prison time. Doctors performed surgery, but were unaware of the extent of damage done to his abdominal organs by the ricocheting bullet. They were also apparently unaware that the killer had used rusty bullets, to make sure that his victim would die from either a bullet wound or an infection. And so he did, of peritonitis, 22 hours after being shot.

The only survivor of Dutch Shultz's crew was tough Irish-American mobster John M. Dunn who later became the brother-in-law of mobster Edward J. McGrath and a powerful member of the Hells Kitchen Irish mob.

Charles Workman was eventually convicted of Schultz's murder and served 23 years in prison. Emmanuel Weiss was electrocuted in 1944 for an unrelated killing.

Last words and posthumous events

Schultz's last words, influenced by a high fever and large quantities of morphine, were a strange stream-of-consciousness babble. They were taken down by a police stenographer. This includes the famous:

A boy has never wept...nor dashed a thousand kim.

But the entire text (linked below) is much more rambling, for example:

You can play jacks, and girls do that with a soft ball and do tricks with it.
Oh, Oh, dog Biscuit, and when he is happy he doesn't get snappy.

One of his last utterances was a seemingly random reference to "French Canadian bean soup". French Canadian Pea Soup is a popular soup recipe that is still produced as canned goods by many food companies.

The surreal nature of Schultz's comments inspired a number of writers to devote works related to them. Beat Generation author William S. Burroughs published a screenplay in novel form entitled The Last Words of Dutch Schultz in the early 1970s, while Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson connected Schultz's words to a global Illuminati-related conspiracy, making them a major part of 1975's The Illuminatus! Trilogy. (In Wilson and Shea's story, Schultz's ramblings are a coded message.)

After Schultz's death, it was discovered that he and his wife had never gone through an official marriage ceremony and the possible existence of another wife emerged with the discovery of letters and pictures of another woman and children among his effects at the hotel he was staying at in Newark. This would never be resolved as his common law wife refused to talk about it and the mystery woman never came forward. Two other women also called at the morgue to receive his effects, but their identities were never known. Though estimated to be worth $7 million when he died, no trace of his income was ever found.

By receiving Last Rites (despite his Jewish roots), Schultz was guaranteed interment in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne in Westchester County, New York although at the request of his Orthodox Jewish mother, Schultz's body was draped with a traditional Jewish prayer shawl, the talit.

The Dutchman's lost treasure

Shortly before his death, fearing that he would be incarcerated due to Dewey's efforts, Schultz commissioned the construction of a special air-tight, waterproof safe, into which he placed $7 million USD in cash and bonds. Schultz and Rosencrantz then drove the safe to an undisclosed location somewhere in upstate New York and buried it. At the time of his death, the safe was still interred; as no evidence existed to indicate that either Schultz or Rosencrantz had ever revealed the location of the safe to anyone, the exact place where the safe was buried died with both men. Gangland lore held that Schultz's enemies--including Lucky Luciano--spent the remainder of their lives searching for the safe; as of 2007, the safe has never been recovered.

Annually, treasure hunters meet in the Catskills to search for the safe. One such congregation was documented in the documentary film Digging for Dutch: The Search for the Lost Treasure of Dutch Schultz.

In popular culture

Schultz's life has been the basis of numerous novels and feature films, most of which have taken substantial dramatic license with the facts, such as the The Last Words of Dutch Schultz, a novel-cum-screenplay by William S. Burroughs. The most famous of these works is novelist E.L. Doctorow's Billy Bathgate, a PEN/Faulkner Award winning novel which dramatizes the last three months of Schultz's life, as seen through the eyes of a young boy who briefly becomes his protégé. In the 1991 film adaptation of the book, Schultz is played by Dustin Hoffman.

  • In 1984, Francis Ford Coppola's The Cotton Club featured Shultz, played by James Remar. The film is a fictional retelling of the Harlem rackets and the relationship between Dutch and Owney Madden, owner of the Cotton Club, played by Bob Hoskins. One of the final scenes in the film shows the shootout at the Chophouse.
  • The 1997 film Hoodlum centers upon Harlem numbers kingpin Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson during Schultz's time there, and the bloody turf war fought between the two men before Schultz's death. Johnson is played by Laurence Fishburne, Schultz by Tim Roth. The film is only very loosely based on the real Dutch Schultz, and several incidents involving him are largely fictionalized (such as Schultz being shot during broad daylight in the bathroom of a deserted restaurant by one of his best friends).
  • On television, Schultz was portrayed by Lawrence Dobkin on three episodes of the 1959-1963 ABC crime drama The Untouchables (bringing Eliot Ness into the story, contrary to historical fact). John Dennis portrayed the him on ten episodes of the 1959-1961 NBC crime drama The Lawless Years. Both shows gave highly fictitious accounts of Schultz's career.
  • In music, Coil's "Circles of Mania" from the 1986 album Horse Rotorvator references Schultz's death directly; the incident is also hinted at in the song's delivery - an increasingly hysterical, stream-of consciousness rant.
  • In music, during live shows, Scott Schultz from Happy Hour (Grand Rapids, Michigan), often summons the power of Dutch Schultz, a possible ancestor.
  • In music, the avant-garde jazz-rock band Baseball Bat performed and recorded live the free-form opera "A Boy Has Never Wept, Nor Dashed a Thousand Kim" (with libretto by historian and author Scott Allen Nollen) in 1990.
  • In music, The True Last Words of Dutch Schultz (1994) , a new music opera. Collaboration of director and writer Valeria Vasilevski and composer Eric Salzman, featuring co-creator Theo Bleckmann as Dutch Schultz for a tour of opera houses throughout the Netherlands. Dutch Schultz was played by Dirk Weiler in the American Concert premiere of the piece at Symphony Space, New York in May 2007. It was directed by Grethe Barrett Holby. This was the first time the opera was performed in the United States.
  • In the Illuminatus! novels, Schultz' assassination is a key event, tying together the characters of Robert Putney Drake, Don Federico Maldonado, John Dillinger, and Dr. Charles Mocenigo (whose father was a fictional third assassin). Schultz's last words are portrayed as a series of coded messages revealing Illuminati secrets; Drake, who had been studying the transcript for a psychology class, deciphers their hidden meaning and uses them to leverage himself into a position of power in both the Illuminati and organized crime.


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